Toby Aldweireld is in no doubt that Tottenham deserve to be in the Champions League final following their dramatic last-minute victory in the semi-finals second leg against Ajax at the Johan Cruyff ArenA on Wednesday.
Spurs were 2-0 down on the night and 3-0 down on aggregate but a second-half hat-trick from Brazil forward Lucas Moura saw off the Dutch league leaders, who had looked the more dangerous team over two legs.
It meant that Spurs had added the scalp of Ajax to those of Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City, who were beaten in the two previous knockout rounds, and will face fellow Premier League side Liverpool at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium on June 1.
“If you play Dortmund, at that moment first in the league in Germany, City first in the league in England, Ajax first in the league in Holland, I think then you deserve to be in the final,” the Spurs defender told reporters.
“We have to enjoy it a little bit. Then I think the manager will have a plan. Now we have to prepare ourselves for the game.”
Alderweireld credited Tottenham’s superior physical and mental strength for overcoming Ajax, who fatally let the tie slip from the grasp when Lucas knocked in his third goal in injury time.
However, according to the Belgium international, the writing was on the wall long before that point.
“We knew today we were physically stronger,” he said. “Of course they have enormous quality, they know how to play.
“We said at half-time as well we need one goal and they will get nervous. And we need quality on the ball and be clinical. And I think we were.”
While it is Tottenham’s first-ever Champions League final appearance, 30-year-old Alderweireld has some unfinished business in the competition, having finished on the losing side in the 2014 final against Real Madrid during his time with city rivals Atletico.
“A Champions League final is so rare to play,” he said. “I’m lucky that I probably will be involved in two. With Spurs to achieve that it’s massive.”